By NICK CHILES
Accused killer George Zimmerman first prompted a national debate on self-defense laws, and now he may be dragging the nation into a new debate involving questionable judgment: he has raised more than $200,000 on a website he created after he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The website has since been shut down, but Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, announced on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 last night that the site drew more than $200,000 in donations in the short time it was up a couple weeks ago. On the site, Zimmerman said its purpose was to raise money for “living expenses” because of his “forced inability to maintain employment.” At the time I wrote that the whole endeavor was more than a bit creepy, since the man is in effect making money from the fact that he killed an unarmed 17-year-old black boy. “I’m not saying that Zimmerman is making a special appeal to the racists of the world—but he’s surely not going to return any money that comes through Paypal sheathed in a white hood,” I said in the post, “A Strange Twist On a Tragic Case: George Zimmerman Launches A Website To Make Money.”
So now it has come to fruition: the site actually capitalized on the existence of sympathy or, worse, admiration for a man accused of second-degree murder. Zimmerman was released last week after he paid 10 percent of his $150,000 bail. O’Mara said on CNN that Zimmerman’s bail might have been higher if the judge knew he had raised $200,000 from a sympathetic public. (But then the attorney said he would probably start a new defense fund for Zimmerman himself—though it feels a different kind of creepy when a lawyer forms the fund to pay for his own fees.)
I’m not being entirely cynical here by suggesting that Zimmerman might have created a new paradigm for skinheads and hood-wearers to profit from the next hate crime they commit. Shoot a black kid, beat the crap out of a gay man, stomp a Jew—and then announce that your site is open for donations and watch the cash start pouring in.
Zimmerman got more than $200,000 of cold hard cash for gunning down an innocent boy, effectively profiting from murder and hate. Is that the new American way?
1. A Strange Twist on a Tragic Case: George Zimmerman Launches a Website to Make Money
2.Teenager Killed in Florida by Neighborhood Watch Brings Terror To My Heart
3. Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, Black Friends & White Privilege
4. Black Boy Swagger, Black Mom Fear